Seasonal Rhubarb Crumble with an Organic Madagascan Vanilla and Orange Syrup

Rhubarb. Seasonality at its best. I literally jump at the opportunity to cook with rhubarb once it comes into season. Rhubarb season runs from April to September. There is nothing quite like cooking with seasonal produce. I sometimes question my cooking with ingredients which are not in season. They simply do not possess the depth of their potential flavour, which they would possess if they were in season.

Seasonal produce can also be inexpensive as there is an abundance of it. So why not take advantage of what is in season and enjoy the wide range of flavours that are available?

For me, this season is all about rhubarb. Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb. I like my rhubarb to have that little bit of tartness. It is that tart, sourness which defines it. Of course, enough sugar needs to be added so that it is edible.

There are so many desserts which can be created with this beautiful ingredient. Rhubarb and ginger pavlova, rhubarb tarts and tartlets, rhubarb fool and of course, rhubarb crumble.

I made mine with the most mouth-watering organic Madagascan vanilla and orange syrup. I’ve never tasted anything quite like this vanilla. It puts vanilla extracts and essences to shame. They can take a backseat from now on. I used freshly squeezed orange juice too – because that stuff from the carton doesn’t even slightly compare.

So get out there and enjoy this wonderful seasonal ingredient. It’s sitting there waiting to be appreciated.

Ingredients:

For the rhubarb base:

  • 1 bunch/500g fresh rhubarb, cut into 4cm pieces
  • 100g caster sugar

For the syrup:

  • 120g caster sugar
  • juice of 1 large orange
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 1 vanilla pod, split

For the crumble:

  • 150g plain flour
  • 100g unsalted butter/margarine
  • 100g demerara sugar
  • large pinch of ground cinnamon

Method:

For the rhubarb base:

  1. Place the chopped rhubarb into a rectangular, oven-proof dish and sprinkle with the caster sugar.

For the syrup:

  1. Place all of the ingredients into a heavy-based saucepan.
  2. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer.
  3. Remove from the heat once a syrup has formed.
  4. Pour this syrup over the rhubarb and mix until combined.

For the crumble:

  1. Combine the flour, sugar and cinnamon in a mixing bowl.
  2. Rub in the fat until a breadcrumb consistency has been achieved.
  3. Sprinkle over the rhubarb and syrup mixture.
  4. Bake at 190C/180C Fan for approximately 45 minutes, or until the crumble topping is golden brown.
  5. Serve with custard, ice-cream or cream.

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